A Guide to Navigating 6 Small Towns in Nevada
There’s so much more to Nevada than Las Vegas.
From ghost towns to cowboy country land, expand your horizons and explore Nevada like you've never seen it. Here are six small towns all visitors should visit before leaving the Silver State.
Virginia City (Storey County)
In 1859, the fortunes of Virginia City changed overnight when miners struck silver in the nearby desert hills of Storey County. The Comstock Lode silver deposit attracted miners from all over the country. With the boom also came bar brawls and Wild West shootings, and as a result, Virginia City is considered to be a haunted town.
Virginia City is considered to be a haunted town
Elko (Elko County)
For the last 31 years, thousands of cowboys have descended on Elko’s Western Folklife Center for theNational Cowboy Poetry Gathering. If you don’t like Cowboy Culture, explore Elko outside. In summer, hikers, climbers, and mountain bikers hit nearby trails with access to high alpine lakes and spectacular views of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. In winter, grab your ski and tear up the backcountry slopes on a heli-ski trip.
Lamoille Canyon in Elko, Nevada
Austin (Lander County)
Antique shops, 150-year-old churches and cafes line the main drag of this 300-person town. Located along Highway 50, Austin has 11 National Historic Sites covering a variety of Old West attractions including 19th-century churches, government buildings, and Stokes Castle—an old mansion modeled on Roman architecture.
Tonopah (Nye County)
When you enter the rural desert town of Tonopah, halfway between Vegas and Reno, finding a place for the night is an adventure in itself. One option is the elegant Mizpah Hotel, known for its 5th-floor resident ghost, Lady in Red. Alternatively, grab your tent and set up camp in the nearby Table Mountain Wilderness.
Tonopah is also home to Nevada’s only turquoise mine that’s open to the public. Those willing to get their hands dirty can have a dig and find great items to take home
Mine and equipment in Tonopah, Nevada
Ely (White Pine County)
Sitting on the eastern edge of U.S. route 50 Ely is a remote mountain town the nearby the Great Basin National Park. Here, travelers have the chance to descend into the depths of the Lehman Cave system to explore a series of limestone and marble caverns full of wild rock formations. The park is also home to the snow-capped Wheeler Peak where you can hike trails or take a scenic drive for sweeping views of the Great Basin.
Scenic views at Great Basin National Park
Rachel (Lincoln County)
Rachel, Nevada, population 75, sits on the edge of Area 51. With common reports of extraterrestrial activity, Rachel attracts UFO chasers from around the world hoping to see a flying saucer. At the heart of town is the Little A’Le’Inn, a peculiar motel and restaurant where alien enthusiasts cans swap stories sand theories.
For ideas on activities to do in Nevada, visit our state guide.